Knowing exactly what can and can’t be recycled can be difficult, but with a bit of research you can find out the things to avoid and start looking for more sustainable alternatives. The catchphrase “reduce, reuse, recycle” is a good place to start and gives you a sensible approach to your individual waste reduction journey
These days many people are downsizing as demonstrated by the increasingly popular tiny house movement. In a smaller home it is just not possible to live with an excess of things. Decluttering and simplifying your life is certainly a more environmentally and sustainable way to live no matter what size home you have.
Make every object earn its keep and consider what you actually need. You may find you don’t need all that much to live very comfortably and having less things can be a relief. Improving your immediate environment may also free up your head space, as physical clutter can create mental clutter!
Why is it so important to recycle?
Lets say no one was recycling. What do you think would happen?
What is happening with recycling in Australia?
Australia has relied on sending a lot of our recyclable waste off shore to China and Asia. Due to changes and import restrictions in these countres, they are now phasing out this service. This will affect the key exports of paper, cardboard and plastics
Australians produce 74 million tonnes of waste per year. By mid-2024 the full waste export ban comes into effect, and Australia must recycle around 645,000 additional tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres each year.
Australia needs to futureproof and resource its domestic waste and recycling sector to be able to deliver a waste reduction and recycling industry to meet the country’s needs.
The Federal Governments Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF), will invest $190 million in partnership with each state in Australia. This move will hopefully provide an adequate infrastructure to accommodate Australia’s recycling.
Check with your local authority to find out about specific requirements or restrictions on recycling in your area.
If we each markedly reduce our waste, it will help by easing demand on the waste management systems in place.
Auditing your recycling for a number of months is important to find out the scale of what you are recycling. You will then be aware of where you can reduce the use of single use items.
How are we performing? Check out what other countries are doing:
- Take your own reusable shopping and produce bags when shopping at the supermarket
- Avoid buying produce with plastic wrapping or bags where possible. Replace plastic food wrap with alternatives such as beeswax cloths
- Minimize the amount of canned produce you are buying and instead buy dry products such as beans which you can cook up at home and store in reusable containers. (Having said that, canned products are a better choice than products in plastic containers as steel is 100% recyclable)
- Buy dry food in bulk using your own reusable containers such as glass jars.
- Take a keep cup and your own reusable container when getting take away food and beverages. (Not all outlets will accept the use of your own containers, so patronise the ones that do)
- Reduce the amount of single use plastic containers such as shampoo, hand wash, containers etc. Switch to environmentally sustainable products such as hair wash bars, here , and making your own hand wash.
- Down the track you can start to make your own food which you normally purchase in containers, such as hummus.
- Reduce food waste by planning your weekly menus and composting as much as possible.
- Reduce the size of your wardrobe and buy more expensive better quality items which will last for many years. Sustainable fabrics such as hemp are preferable to the mass produced clothing much of which contains plastic in various forms. Buy clothing that will mix and match so you still have variety in what you are wearing.
Changing habits takes time and commitment
Do what you can and change your habits at a pace you can manage. Any change you make to reduce or recycle waste is going to be positive for your local environment.
Sort your waste into categories and ensure the recycling you are throwing away can be accommodated at your local depot.
If you have a council recycling bin at home, you can discard glass, paper, cardboard, plastic and metal cans. Rinse all items removing any food waste prior to discarding. Lids and labels can be left on.
You should be able to find places that take other types of recycling, such as charity shops for clothing, and collection bins for e-waste and batteries.
Categories of recycling
- Paper and cardboard
- Food Waste/Composting
- Household goods including computers and mobile phones, batteries
Ensure you put the right things in the right bins to stop reusable and recyclable materials ending up in landfill.
You should also be able to find local collection bins for e waste and batteries. These are often at the entrance to shopping centres.
Check out the blog on recycling plastic waste for more information